Our veggie patch is looking pretty bleak now. It’s nearly time to tidy up and dig it over for the coming winter. Although I love autumn and winter, I always feel a bit sad seeing the garden looking so bare. I miss the excitement of growing things during the dark months. But we’re lucky to have had such a bumper year – blackcurrants, broad beans, apples, potatoes and tomatoes. There are also a few onions growing but they still look quite small.
We’ve been getting a steady stream of ripe tomatoes for a few weeks now. I’ve made soup, chilli, bolognese, sausage stew and all sorts! I’ve got a huge bowl full to use this week. I might make a big batch of multi-purpose sauce to freeze in portions. It’s great as a base for pasta or pizza, as well as all the meals mentioned above.
Sadly I noticed one of the tomato plants had a blight on it this week so Iris and I picked as many tomatoes as we could. Some were too far gone and the slugs are starting to take over too. But we gathered a whopping 4lb of green tomatoes and I got straight on the phone to my Grandma.
She’s 84 and has a garden full of fruit trees and vegetable plants. She makes all her own jams and chutneys, as well as all the family birthday cakes. She really is awesome. An inspiration. I’ve never made chutney before so she gave me lots of handy tips, as well as a load of glass jars and a huge cooking apple from her garden! So here it is, Grandma Phyl’s green tomato chutney…
4lb green tomatoes
2 large cooking apples
14oz sugar (I used half demerara, half caster)
3 tsp mixed spice
1 1/4 pints vinegar (I used mainly malt and a little balsamic)
First is the chopping. A LOT of chopping. The toms, apples and onions. All of them. I had to dig out the biggest bowl I own. The heavy Mason & Cash one that I rarely use because it’s so heavy just getting it out of the cupboard is an effort!
Don’t bother peeling the apples. The onions nearly finished me off. But I powered through the tears. I did it by hand but if you have a food processor with a chopping attachment, use that instead.
Add 3 tablespoons of salt, stir it all thoroughly, put a tea towel over it and leave it overnight.
I was really surprised how much liquid had been drawn out by the salt. Strain it and discard the salty water. Now time to cook! My biggest saucepan wasn’t big enough so I had to split it into two pans.
Bring it to the boil in the vinegar, then reduce the heat and add the sugar, spice and sultanas. Leave it to simmer for 1.5 hours, until the ingredients are dark and soft and squishy.
About half an hour before then end of the cooking time, you need to sterilise the jars. Take the lids off (I had 8 jars of various sizes), place them on an oven tray, and put them in the oven on a low heat for the last 20 minutes or so.
Leave them for about 10 minutes to cool slightly, just to make filling them a bit easier.
Fill the jars right to the brim and put the lids back on tightly. You could use the chutney straight away but the longer you leave it, the better the taste. I’ll leave them until Christmas (6 weeks minimum) so the flavours have time to mingle. This chutney will make a great accompaniment to a festive cheese board.
Label them, pretty them up with a square of fabric and a ribbon over the lid, and they’ll make lovely handmade gifts for friends, family, teachers or neighbours.